Friday, April 08, 2016

THE BOSS: Melissa McCarthy's Latest Vapid Vehicle

Opening today at a multiplex near you:

(Dir. Ben Falcone, 2016)

‘Please be better than TAMMY – please be better than TAMMY,’ I kept repeating in my head going in to see this new Melissa McCarthy vehicle.

The 2014 summer release TAMMY, about an obnoxious, foul-mouthed poor white trash woman taking a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon), was McCarthy’s first starring role, and also her first film helmed by husband, Ben Falcone, who is probably best remembered as the Air Marshal in the Kristen Wiig smash BRIDESMAIDS – the film that featured McCarthy’s career breakthrough.

TAMMY may have been a disappointment, but it was fairly successful at the box office, so after McCarthy had another hit with Paul Feig’s not bad SPY last year (which Falcone had a cameo in), the husband and wife duo return with THE BOSS, about another obnoxious, foul-mouthed lady, but this time she’s rich white trash.

McCarthy plays the well-coiffed, turtleneck-wearing Michelle Darnell, a Donald Trump-styled mogul, who is extremely proud of being the “47th wealthiest woman in America.” That is, until she is arrested for inside trading (“everybody does it!” Michelle protests), and sent to a country club-like Federal prison for five months.

When she is released, she finds that all of her assets have been seized and she’s forced to live with her former assistant, Claire, portrayed by Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars fame.

Before long, inspired by Claire’s daughter’s (Elle Anderson) Girl Scouts-like troop, the Dandelions, Michelle figures a way to get back on top by starting an organization called “Darnell's Darlings,” who will sell brownies to compete with the Dandelions cookies.

The brownie recipe is Claire’s so she and Michelle become 50-50 partners in the budding business.

Peter Dinklage is the film’s villain as Renault, Michelle’s ex-lover turned competitor; BRIDESMAIDS co-writer Annie Mumolo plays another adversary, a snooty Dandelions mother; Tyler Labine plays a co-worker of Claire’s who has a crush on her, Kathy Bates has an all too short part as Michelle’s mentor, and SNL’s Cicely Strong has a very wasted part as Claire’s boss, who’s a big fan of Michelle’s.

Actually they’re all wasted parts as there’s not one inspired, memorable character to be found here.

The film is so filled with jokes that don’t land, awkward unfunny moments, and clunky plotting that extreme restlessness took me around the halfway mark, and I was mostly just sitting there waiting for it to end.

Now and again, I mildly chuckled. There’s no way McCarthy can make a movie that doesn’t have at least a few halfway decent attempts at laughs - a street fight scene between the Dandelions and Darnell's Darnings accounts for a few funny moments – but for long stretches I watched in silence at obvious gag setups that resulted in eye-roll inducing payoffs over and over.

THE BOSS isn’t even a good title as nobody calls McCarthy that, and the movie isn’t really about her being a boss. It isn’t really about anything except having McCarthy make cheap shot quips at her co-stars.

McCarthy is one of the funniest people working in the cinematic comedy genre, but she’s beginning to build a filmography full of vapid vehicles that aren’t worthy of her talents (i.e. IDENTITY THIEF, THE HEAT, and the aforementioned TAMMY).

Here’s hoping that this summer’s GHOSTBUSTERS reboot/remake/re-whatever, in which she stars with a trio of SNL gals (Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones), fairs better, because it’s getting sad to see yet another overly broad, lame effort like this. 

I mean, not even the bloopers that accompany the end credits (something I just knew a film like this would have) are that funny!

More later...

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